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Technology and Modern Organizational Processes
By Henk Munter, Chief Data Officer, Beslist
When asked this question, I basically have two answers:
• Changes everything.
• Changes nothing.
Allow me to elaborate:
1. It is changing the entire game: From re-writing rulebooks all the way to creating totally new outcomes/results. To highlight just a few staggering effects:
a. Speed of execution
b. Width and depth of information
c. Level of automation
d. Consumption of information
e. Scalability and stability of solutions
Everybody knows this, every supplier is telling us and we are all running to jump on board, hopefully, we have vision but also because we are in fear of missing out on the opportunity.
By themselves, these changes deliver nothing whatsoever: Technology is and always will be only one single element in the end result. No matter how powerful it becomes, and there can be no doubt it is and will rapidly continue to become more powerful, technological changes have to go hand-in-hand with other changes. More precisely, by processing change, how you organise your operation and therefore how you decide to utilize the technologies and/or their outcome in your business processes is as a critical determinate of the measure of success you will be able to achieve. There is no single blueprint on how to do this, but a range from radical introduction with 100 percent adoption from day one all the way to starting in an isolated parallel/laboratory setting and bit by bit evaluating on adoption.
Go find out what is recommended, apply a healthy dose of pragmatism, establish a roadmap, and take data seriously
A key decision to make, per separate instance, is to decide what will work best and plan/act accordingly. Whatever choice you make you have to ensure everybody is aware and on the same page of what is happening and why.
This automatically brings me to the second point: people change. No matter how much technology you introduce people will always be participating. You need to make sure:
1. The current staff may, or may not be able to adopt the changes that come with the technological advancement; you will have to validate this and, if necessary, take corrective action. Failure to do so will jeopardize the outcome.
2. Even if all the staff are able to adopt the changes, it will still need a lot of change management and training to ensure a full adoption. After all, they are only human and throughout (business) history we know that humans simply do not change automatically.
• Data Change: So, assuming you have done everything right for the technology, the people, and the process there is still one critical element left: the data!
1. Establishing a good data practice and installing core data capabilities is key. There are many textbooks where you can find extensive lists of all the measures to consider. My simple message here is: go find out what is recommended, apply a healthy dose of pragmatism, establish a roadmap, and take data seriously!
Conclusion: where does that leave us in terms of what to do to ensure technology changes positively affect our business environment? Realizing that all the elements come together and influence the outcome and managing accordingly is what we should be doing. So is that all?
No, two more things:
1. All or nothing: all of the above need to be considered, albeit pragmatically, and addressed one way or the other. Ignoring one in terms of success stands equal to achieving nothing and then you might as well do nothing as it is a heck of a lot cheaper.
2. The board room: Incorporation of the above into the board level of the company. Only when leaders fully understand the principles, adopt them and start to make decisions accordingly, which includes giving experts decision right in their respective domains and consulting those experts beforehand on strategic topics, you will have all the elements to benefit fully and consistently, and to harvest the full potential of the technological advancements that are available today. Possible options are to include roles like chief data officer, chief science officer in the board room or to assign these areas specifically to one of the existing C roles.
So, rather than answering the original question, I have tried to answer the following question, “What do we need to do, additionally to introducing the technology, to guarantee/maximize the benefits from technological advancements?”
I firmly believe: touch all above points, in conjunction and in balance, and the business results will be amazing! Ignoring even one will, at the least, diminish the results substantially if not lead to ultimate failure.
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